Order Lepidoptera - Butterflies and Moths

Order Lepidoptera
The butterflies and moths are common and well-known insects.  They are easily recognized by their scaly wings, which often produce beautiful colors.  Most of the larvae are phytophagous and are of economic importance.  Nearly all Lepidoptera have long siphoning mouthparts which can be coiled when not in use.  There are a number of classification systems for Lepidoptera, many of which are based on wing, head, and leg characters.  Here we will present a few of the most common and recognizable families.

Swallowtail Butterflies
The swallowtails are some of the largest and brightly colored butterflies in North America.  Some of the most common swallowtail colors are black and yellow.  They are characterized by having one or more tail-like projections on the hind wing

Brush-footed Butterflies
This is a large family whose name refers to the front legs that are small, clawless, and not used when walking.  It is separated into several subfamilies, including the monarch butterflies, viceroys, wood nymphs, and painted ladies. 

Sulfur Butterflies
Sulfurs are medium-sized butterflies that typically have black markings on  wings.  They are typically white, yellowish, or orange in color.

Noctuid Moths
This is the largest family within the Lepidoptera order with nearly 3,000 describe species in North America.  They are primarily nocturnal and are often attracted to lights.  They have narrowed front wings and fairly broad hind wingsThe antennae are usually long and slenderExcept for the underwing moths, these moths are typically drab in color

Sphinx/Hawk Moths
These moths are heavy-bodied with long, narrow front wings.  Their body is spindle-like, being pointed both anteriorly and posteriorly.  The antennae are somewhat thickened, frequently forming a gradual club. They are strong flies and are sometimes called "hummingbird moths".  They are most active at dusk, but some are day-fliers.

Snout/Grass Moths
This is a large family of small, delicate moths whose labial palps form a snout-like structure in front of the head.  At rest, many species roll their wings around the body, giving them a tubular shape.